Updated: June 20, 2015
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is a rare bird in American politics: he’s an independent. And now, just like Ross Perot before him, he’s trying to prove that third parties still have a place in our political system. Until now, most people have only been exposed to Sanders though soundbites on social media, which have gained wide-spread acclaim. While I’m a firm believer that political issues should not be reduced to oversimplified statements, the points that Sanders makes are so spot-on that it’s hard to complain about their delivery method.
For example, Sanders points out that if the minimum wadge had kept pace with the rise of inflation over the past 50 years, it would currently be over $20 an hour. Also among his soundbite repertoire: “If you think it’s too expensive to care for veterans, then don’t send them to war” and “It’s not the Congress that regulates Wall Street, it’s Wall Street that regulates the Congress.” These are just a few of my favorites among dozens of valid statements regarding the serious problems in American society that no one seems to be addressing.
Despite his evident qualifications, there are many roadblocks that spell doom for Sanders in his campaign for the presidency. This is a shame, because its been over 20 years since an independent last made a run for the Oval Office. This country needs to break the stranglehold that the two-party system has had on American politics for the last 150 years.
Let’s address the issue of finances. According to wiseGEEK.com, a serious candidate must have at least $125-$175 million to have a chance at winning the White House. Sanders is off to a good start, having raised $1.5 million dollars in the first 24 hours of his campaign (more then any of the top GOP candidates managed in their first 24.) The problem is, he needs to not only maintain but exponentially increase that level of fundraising if he is to have a prayer against the deep pockets of Hillary Clinton and her family’s Foundation.
This is a problem area for Sanders, who has made it clear that he intends to win not through the aid of billionaires but the small contributions of ordinary citizens (which he’s been receiving.) According to Mic.com, Sanders is collecting an average of $43 per donation from supporters.
Second issue: his faith. Sanders is Jewish, which would mean he’d be the first Jewish-American president in U.S. history. That may sound like a big step forward for the Jewish community, but it is that very community that is raising doubts and even speaking out against Sanders (much like how the Catholics did against Kennedy.)
Reasons for this vary, but general consensus seems to be that the Jewish community isn’t sure they want Sanders to be the one to represent them on the national stage. It’s safe to say that the same would be true for any Jewish candidate, mainly because the first person of any faith or race to hold such a high office will always be the subject of scrutiny and disapproval from some within their own community.
Lastly, it’s already apparent that Sanders is running into the same obstacle faced by John McCain eight years ago: age. At 73, Sanders would be the oldest person to ever be elected to the presidency. The unfortunate truth is, Sanders doesn’t have the same charisma that launched other presidents into office. And in a country where style has always trumped substance, it’s not hard to see this being the final nail in Sander’s coffin.
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